- Deciding what you want out of therapy — Often times it is helpful to identify what your goal is for counselling. Is it coping with anxiety, processing trauma, navigating a separation or loss, dealing with a chronic illness, etc.? Have a goal identified can help you discover someone who specializes in that area. Many therapists have general knowledge of mental health, but it can be super important to find someone who knows about your specific area of interest.
- Price point – different disciplines charge different amounts. A social worker, psychotherapist, psychologist, or qualifying therapist (person in training) will all charge different amounts depending on their specialty, years of experience, and education. Knowing your budget will often help narrow down the list of potential therapists. If money or insurance is tight, it might be helpful to investigate community funded supports through your family doctor’s office or a local organization. You could also considering seeing someone who is training to be a therapist but is supervised by someone with a lot of experience. You could also consider the frequency of therapy. It could be more cost effective to space appointments out, however, this could make the consistency of progress a bit slower.
- Availability — every therapist often only offers appointments during certain days and times of the week. Knowing when and how often you want to see the person is important. This would be an important question to inquire when communicating with potential therapists. Some therapists may also be full and have a waiting list. Knowing how soon you want to start therapy and when they could start seeing you might help narrow the list down.
- Free consults –– some therapists will offer a free 15-30 minute consult. This step could be important to see whether you think this person would be a good fit. I encourage you to ask questions about education, experience, availability and how they conduct sessions. Pay attention to how does it feel talking to this person. Does it feel comfortable? Does their approach seem to fit what you were hoping for? Etc.
- Don’t be afraid to shop around — sometimes it is helpful to conduct a few consults before making the final decision. Therapy is a sacred space where you will often discuss some of the most vulnerable parts of your life. It is important that you find someone who makes you feel comfortable, safe to open up, and has knowledge around what type of support you are looking for. Doing a few consults is helpful to compare different styles, approaches and fit.
At the end of the day, not every therapist will be good match for every person. It is okay to look around to find someone who meets your needs.